Category Archives: Jason Alt

Good’s Not Good Enough

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It’s pretty easy to assess cards in terms of EDH when you read the spoilers. It’s even easier to think you’re assessing cards in terms of EDH if you don’t know anything about EDH because you look at a card you don’t see an application for in the formats you know and say “EDH card. Nailed it” and then go eat at Quizno’s or whatever dumb people do when they’re done being dumb. I mean, Jared Fogle breaking out of prison and murdering everyone who testified against him and then saying Hearthstone was better than Magic and the Detroit Red Wings were a great hockey team wouldn’t be enough to get me to eat at Quizno’s. How hard is it to not burn a sandwich? Potbelly doesn’t burn their sandwiches. They put them on the same little oven conveyor belt you do and they don’t come out smelling like an Emergency Room trash can full of finger parts on the Fourth of July (or whatever fireworks exploding holiday you celebrate in your country). Get your act together, Quizno’s. Card assessment in terms of strength in EDH is easy, assessment with respect to decks it can go in is easy. You know what’s hard? Judging if being good and powerful is going to be enough.

Good Enough For What?

That’s a good point to have me clarify, device I’m using to answer my own softball questions by pretending a third party asked them.

What do we mean by good enough? Put simply, we mean good enough to be worth money in a term. Whether that is the long-term or the short-term, assessing whether a card is going to be good enough to buy at some point for a price with the expectation that we’re going to be able to sell it for more later is what we’re after. I want to look at some historically “good enough” cards and the reasons why similar cards are not and see if we can’t predict what we should do about a few of the spoiled cards from Shadows Over Innistrad.

Some cards are obviously good.

feveredvisions

This card is very good in a Nekusar deck. You’re going to get an extra card and you’re going to Lightning Bolt your opponents because your opponents’ hands are going to be full because when you’re a Nekusar player, your one job is to make their hand be full of cards and to hurt them. That’s two jobs. Your two jobs are to keep their hands full of cards and hurt them. And keep the board clear of threat. Three jobs. My point is this is stupid good in Nekusar.

Why wouldn’t this card be a no-brainer buy-in? Nekusar has done a pretty good job of demonstrating it can spike cards.

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100% of the reason this went from $2 to $12 briefly before settling around 4 times its initial price is Nekusar. Forced Fruition forces your opponent to do what your whole deck wants them to do and it does it very efficiently. Forced Fruition is the perfect example of a card that’s good despite being sort of narrow( only good in one deck, really) and good enough to be an auto-include and therefore have upside.

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Is Fevered Visions going to experience the same upside effect from Nekusar? I don’t think so and I think there are several reasons why.

It’s Too Narrow

Ideally we like to see cards go in a lot of different decks. If a card is a format staple, we can see a clear path to upside because there are so many different decks that need it. Even if every Nekusar player in the world bought a copy of Fevered Visions, they would still only need one copy because who has multiple Nekusar decks? Players need a million copies of Sol Ring but really only one of this and that’s if they’re even playing Nekusar, a super boring and linear commander that makes everyone hate you. As good as the card is in this deck, not many other decks are that excited.

It’s Too New

If you compare the number of copies of Forced Fruition to the likely number of copies of Fevered Visions out there, you’re going to notice that Lorwyn cards are pretty rare comparatively. Lorwyn was the set that basically started a new trend of a ton of new players joining at a huge rate because of Planeswalkers and Lorywn cards are more rare than you’d think. Not to mention everyone assumes Lorywn came out like 5 years ago but it was more like 10. 10 years is a long time. Fevered Visions is going to be all over because Shadows is going to sell a ton of boosters. Not as many as anything from new Zendikar with its expeditions and eldrazi, but maybe more with all of its zombies and angels. It’s hard to say. What we can say is narrow EDH non-mythic rares are going to end up bulk with a bajillion copies out there.

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It Might Not Be As Good As You Think

People are already talking about how they might not want this in their Nekusar pile. I think they’re wrong, but people are going to accuse me of being super biassed toward this card because it was the Brainstorm Brewery preview card and we were happy to not only have a preview card but to have a rare. The card is good in Nekusar and it’s a Howling Mine with upside so I don’t think you want to not play this. Still, if people aren’t 100% convinced this is an auto-include in the one deck it seems tailor-made to go into, you got problems. Personally, I think those people who are saying nay don’t have a Nekusar deck, but this card isn’t good enough to convince them they need to make one.

So I have basically made up my mind about Fevered Visions, but what about some of the other cards in the set? Could they end up having a different fate? What should we look at to determine that?

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Mayael’s Aria is a pretty good example of a card that’s good enough. The growth is slow and steady and while it looks like it was made to be jammed in a Mayael deck with Mosswort Troll and other fatty fat fats, it can go in quite a few decks. It’s a rare from Alara Reborn, a set which had mythic rares and yet it’s $6. It seems like a shoo-in for Mayael decks, right? Well, so does Meglonoth.

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So why is one card $6 and the other card is a tenth of that? It’s fairly obvious when you think about it, but let’s humor me because it’s my article and run down the criteria I outlined earlier.

It Might Be Too Narrow

Aria gets played in a lot of decks and 35% of Mayael decks run it. 35% of Aria decks (Per EDHREC, a metric I’ve written extensively about why I think it’s fair to use ) also run Megnoloth. The difference in the Synergy Rating is also pretty negligible – 25% for Meglonoth versus 21% for Aria. Still, when you look at the decks that run it, Meglonoth is mostly relegated to decks that are Naya colored whereas Aria is run in decks like Progenitus where it’s a KO. I like cards that say “Win the game” and you can make room for Aria in a lot more decks than you can a big clunky creature, even one with sicko abilities like Meglonoth.

Most of the other creatures from this block that are shoo-ins in Mayael are reprinted in the various Commander sealed products so we don’t have a ton of other cards to compare it to, but I think we  can establish Meglonoth may suffer from being a little narrow.

It Might Be Too New

I don’t know that this is the case with Meglonoth. It’s certainly newer than Lorwyn and while the Alara block broke sales records at the time, it’s not making anyon’e jaw drop when you see the sales numbers compared to other sets, even to original Zendikar. I don’t think it’s too new but it’s new enough that it looks like merit is making Aria’s price diverge from Meglonoth’s.

It Might Not Be Good Enough

It’s funny to look at this point because while Meglonoth gets played in the same percentage of Mayael decks as Aria does per EDHREC, it’s clearly not the same power level. I think there is some overlap with the “how narrow is it?” point here that can explain the price discrepency. Meglonoth is good enough for Mayael but it’s not good enough to go in decks where it’s less obvious. I feel the same way about Fevered Visions. It’s certainly good enough for Nekusar but is it good enough for Mizzix? Jori En? Narset? That’s less clear, and I think the fact that the answer to this question is most likely “I doubt it” means that we have limited upside for Visions and I’m personally staying away. I realize I am supposed to get people hyped about the set by getting them hyped about this card so I will say I think Visions is good enough to make me go into the pile of like 25 Nekusars I have lying around and build the stupid deck. I just wish I hadn’t sold all of my copies of Wheel and Deal and Forced Fruition into the hype.

Looking at the Rest of the Set

There are some other cards to look at using these criteria to see if how stupidly obvious they are for one deck will translate to monetary success given the other factors we’ve identified. I’m all about teaching people to fish and I’m gratified to see my readers citing things like EDHREC stats when they do their own analysis. Let’s look at a few cards and see if we can’t figure out if they’re good enough to buy.

seasonspast

Narrow?

Certainly not. A lot of big green decks want this.

Good Enough?

Seems powerful. It reminds me of some other big green mythics that do dumb stuff like this.

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This is going to be a little too new to make a real price impact, but I expect it will get somewhere eventually. It reminds me of some of these other big mana spells and if Seasons Past manages to dodge a reprinting in Commander sealed product, it should creep up to $5ish in a few years and maybe beyond. I think it’s as good as The Great Aurora, so that means they are a good price corollary and all of the other factors we’re controlling for seem to be the same so I’m calling this a “don’t buy”.

thegitrogmonster

This card is stupid.

Narrow?

I think this can be its own commander but also do a ton of work in other decks.

Good Enough?

I really think so. This is an $8 preorder, however, so is it that good? Do we have anything to compare it to – a mythic that is good as a Commander as well as in the 99 from a comparable set that is the same power level?

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This is about as close as I could get. Now, since the analogy breaks down a bit because Gitrog goes in more 99s than Omnath and Gitrog has potential to impact Standard while we’ve seen Omnath hasn’t, what we have here is a worst-case scenario. So what we have to do is ask ourselves the question – is Gitrog good enough for Standard? It’s obviously bugnutty in EDH, but so is Omnath and we’ve shown that Omnath is a great investment if you only want to keep 25% of your initial buy-in. Is Omnath good enough for Standard? No, it isn’t and its price has suffered. Is The Gitrog Monster good enough for Standard? That’s up to you to decide. Whatever you decide, that will be all you need to know when you ask yourself whether to wait or pre-order. For my money, I think the answer is probably no, as stupid good as The Gitrog Monster is. It’s good. I just don’t think it’s the kind of good that’s good enough. And that’s a callback to the name of the article. Roll credits.

 

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Safety

Uncertainty can be a bitch.

Uncertainty makes people regress to their baser instincts and a lot of investment decisions are driven by fear. Don’t buy too late or you’ll miss out. Don’t sell too early or you’ll miss out. Buy a Powerball ticket, ever. If being calm and rational in the face of losing money – real or potential, were easy, everyone would be a cash money millionaire with dolla dolla bills, y’all, drinking cough syrup out of a bejewled chalice and going to jail for tax evasion. Cash may rule everything around you, but your amygdala rules you and it makes you kind of a pansy.

This is why the removal of uncertainty can serve as as much of an event as anything else in EDH Finance. We talked about the last EDH Rules Committee announcement because it gave us a lot of significant events – the changes to the color identity rule that helped us predict a huge spike in the price of cards like Sen Triplets. The banning of Prophet of Kruphix that helped us lose a lot of money on our copies of Prophet of Kruphix. Less blatantly, though, we saw a subtle indication that Prophet was more troublesome than a card like Consecrated Sphinx. The result?

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The price went up by 45% in a week. Nothing gives prices a shot in the ass like a little certainty, and nothing says “safe for at least another 3 months, likely much longer” like using Consecrated Sphinx as an example contrasting with a card they did ban. It wasn’t designed to make the price on Sphinx go nuts, but everyone knew Sphinx was a card that people whined about and it was on all sorts of watch lists. It’s hard to spend $15 on a card that could be banned tomorrow. Well, good news – now it’s $25.

A little certainty, even very little certainty, is smashing some card prices.

Safe For a Year is Forever in Finance Years

Back before Commander 2015 was spoiled, I looked at each deck and tried to predict some cards that would be included in those decks and end up being the next Wurmcoil Engine – that is to say what would be the $15 +/- $3ish card that would get reprinted in a Commander sealed deck, lose some value but ultimately retain a lot of it because every copy opened would go straight in a deck rather than hitting the market. In the case of an older card we might see some value reduction just because copies of an Invasion card are much rarer than a Scars of Mirrodin card. Regardless of what the card did after the copies hit shelves, I expected Wizards to target quite a few cards in the same price sweet spot as Wurmcoil Engine and I got, with basically no clues other than what the Commanders did, quite a few right – namely Urza’s Incubator, Black Market and Phyrexian Arena.

That’s not the point – they were guesses and I’m not going to pretend I want a pat on the back when I guess right because I sure don’t want someone to give me a hard time when I guess wrong. It’s that kind of thing that has a lot of MTG Finance people only talking about cards after they go up so they’ll never be wrong. The point isn’t that we guessed correctly, the point is that the stuff was predictable. We nailed quite a few cards in a recent article merely by listing Reserved List cards that were playable in both Legacy and EDH.

The point is if we predicted it once, we can predict it again. And we can also predict what happens to the cards that aren’t in the Commander sealed product because that’s what I want to talk about today.

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There sure is, Brian. There sure is.

I bring up the articles I wrote about cards we thought could be in Commander 2015 because Phyrexian Altar was a very good candidate. Its price at the time of the article? $15ish – right in the sweet spot to be the next Wurmcoil. I didn’t know anything except that it would be a good idea to go to the Magic wiki and see what they said the two color combinations did. Golgari seemed to like sacrificing stuff and when I saw what Mazirek and Meren did I felt like Phyrexian Altar was a very good candidate for a reprint. Phyrexian Altar was not reprinted.

Then, this happened.

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The price basically doubled. Why? Well, since Phyrexian Altar looked like a very good candidate for reprinting in Commander 2015, it was a risky pickup at the time. But, psychologically, something funny happened when it wasn’t reprinted. The way Commander cards are reprinted is much more predictable, now. There was always the risk of a reprinting in the core set or in something like Modern Masters. With an annual Commander sealed set, reprints for Commander cards are all but relegated to that once-yearly product. With this predictability comes some stability.

With that stability comes confidence. When Phyrexian Altar wasn’t reprinted at the $15 price point, people who were on the fence pulled the trigger, just as they did with Consecrated Sphinx. Altar isn’t going to ever be banned and with it escaping reprinting in the Commander 2015 set, it was safe for at least another year. That made it relatively safe to scoop up the 20ish copies on TCG Player, trigger the 1 or 2 copies on sites like Card Shark and Strike Zone to be snapped up and basically pegged the new price at $30.

Suddenly a card that was risky as a $15 staple that made sense in sealed product was a less risky card that had another year to grow and had people’s confidence. The same reasons (great in Meren and Mazirek decks, for example) that made it an obvious choice for printing in those decks makes it a great pickup for people building those decks. Demand increases, confidence increases. The farther the price gets from $15, the more sense it makes to invest. The card is hot, it’s not getting reprinted for at least another year, and what are the odds they print a deck next year where it would slot in so perfectly? And if they’re trying to find a $15 Wurmcoil analog to jam some value in, are they going to print a $21 Phyrexian Altar in a product with $35 MSRP? What about a $25 Altar? What about a $30 altar? Suddenly the reprint risk is gone. Suddenly Phyrexian Altar looks very safe indeed. What better place to park $30?

$15 Commander staples that escape reprinting in sealed product and get better with the new set basically miss their reprint window. Altar is much tougher to reprint than it was a year ago and with the contents of Commander 2016 getting close to being finalized if they’re not already, what is Wizards to do? Jam Altar in FTV: Lore? Unlikely. Conspiracy 2? It would have to work with the set- it couldn’t just be jammed in there willy-nilly. Another Commander’s Arsenal? That is the opposite of helping. They’re backed into a corner, basically, and another EDH staple becomes unaffordable for the average EDH player. A functional reprint or slight upgrade is a more feasible option than putting a $30 card in a $35 product unless there is no value in the rest of the cards and that makes the deck weak relative to the other decks. They’re handcuffed.

As bad as it is for the game, it doesn’t hurt us to be able to identify a few cards that could be the next Phyrexian Altar since Phyrexian Altar wasn’t the next Wurmcoil Engine.

What are Our Criteria?

First of all, the card can’t be on the Reserved List. Don’t get me wrong – those cards are great targets and a lot of them are starting to go up. But that’s a separate article. Like, to the extent that I already wrote that article.

Second of all, they should be cheap enough that reprinting the cards in an upcoming Commander set makes sense and failing to reprint them will be seen as a mistake. How good Phyrexian Arena is in Daxos decks could have pushed arena up in price the way Serra’s Sanctum is climbing but it got the reprinting and the price is reasonable, now. Altar wasn’t so lucky.

Thirdly, it can’t make sense to reprint the cards anywhere else. We’re not looking at the same kind of pressure that was on Phyrexian Altar if the card makes a lot of sense as a reprint in Eternal Masters or Conspiracy. $30 isn’t too much for a reprinting in a set that doesn’t have a set MSRP the way Commander stuff does but rather tends to enforce the total price of the set around the price of a redemption set on MODO. Phyrexian Altar would be clunky to jam in Conspiracy 2 or Eternal Masters but Shardless Agent wouldn’t.

With that, I have a few cards I want to discuss.

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In case you thought Phyrexian Altar was an isolated incident, think again. All things Phyrexian got a second look lately and Tower followed the same behavior. Tower was a reasonable inclusion in a Commander set at $15, synergizes well with the Golgari deck and escaped inclusion in Commander 2015. Tower is not on the Reserved List because they needed to make room for Argothian Wurm and Opal Archangel (Funny how no one complained a decade ago about the color-shifted printing of Argothian Wurm that circumvented the Reserved List) and renewed confidence in it as a spec on top of how good it is with the most-built new deck means it missed its reprint window. This price is going to be tough to reign in, and if people start playing Nic Fit, a deck that is pretty strong in Legacy and which can get away with fewer duals since you want more basics than normal, this could see even more upside due to the additional exposure. I feel like this effect is very real.

Candidates

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This could be nearing its reprint window. This gets played in Ayli, the second-most-built deck and synergizes well with Felidar Sovereign which is much more affordable, now. I’m not sure what the themes of the Commander 2016 decks will be, but lifegain usually features and this could be $22-$25 soon if not reprinted and that will make it much harder to reprint later. This is much newer than Phyrexians Tower and Altar but this is also cheating in EDH since it’s a 1-mana Baneslayer. If this isn’t reprinted soon it probably never can be.

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This is very recent to be in the spot it’s in, but price-wise, this is on the bubble, I feel. This is a shoo-in for Karador decks and Karador is still being built a ton, especially with the new goodies from, you guessed it, the Golgari Commander 2015 precon. This may be a little easier to reprint in the new Innistrad block but I don’t see that happening. The lore will likely progress, making it tougher to reprint a Legendary creature at a very specific point in his life than it is a card like Thoughtseize. I’d say this is still tricky to reprint and if people start buying more aggressively, it will become even tougher.

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This was always a great pickup, but with the changes to Rule 4 governing the colors of mana a rock like this could produce, this got even more attention and it’s going to need a reprinting soon before its price gets too high to touch. There are way more Lanterns out  there than Phyrexian Altars but this goes in way more decks. This could be the next Sol Ring – reprinted into powder every cycle to make it accessible so it can go in a ton of decks or this could be the next Sensei’s Divining Top.

Conclusion

I will revisit this topic in a few months. The examples I gave are strong ones, but they’re also based a bit on a false paradigm – I selected cards that are in decks being built the most now but new archetypes may emerge with the printing of Commander 2016 which will make us focus on different cards. The criteria won’t change but they will be easier to find. I’m not advocating buying up these cards but I am suggesting that we can predict something very similar to what happened with Phyrexian Altar. You don’t want to be the guy who didn’t pull the trigger at $15 now faced with the grim reality of having to pay twice that. We can predict these jumps very nicely and we’ll do so when we have more information.

Am I off-base with this new theory? If not, what should I name it? The Phyrexian Altar Effect? Something pithier? Wittier? Hit me up in the comments section, nerds. Until next week!

 

 

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Who is Conspiracy and What does He Do?

I was on record being pretty displeased about Eternal Masters. The set basically threatens to tank a lot of Legacy cards that players had invested a lot of money in while simultaneously making Reserved List cards like Underground Sea unattainable. It won’t make Legacy more accessible but it will drain the value out of most of the cards in Legacy players’ collections and concentrate them in a few cards they may or may not own.

Last week we went over the cards that are EDH-playable and also on the Reserved List which therefore have a lot of exposure to upside. Some of the cards we discussed have started to go up already, namely Null Rod, City of Traitors and Serra’s Sanctum. They went up a lot. Legacy saw people start to jam Eldrazi in that format which is disappointing because it goes to show that WotC learned precisely nothing from the Affinity disaster over a decade ago. Cards that aren’t needed to fight Eldrazi will go up over time because Reserved List cards just tend to do that so I basically wrote an article where every shot I called will go up eventually and some have already spiked hard, making me look like a genius. If I get any better at this, I’ll be able to call cards after they go up and still have people congratulate me. What can I say? I’m that goulah.

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No, I don’t know what the hell he meant

How goulah I am (very) aside, what do I talk about this week? It’s really hard to top an article where you got 100% of your picks correct (you know, eventually) and I don’t want to phone this one in, resting on my laurels. Maybe we should talk about a call I got super wrong. Namely, the time on Brainstorm Brewery (the podcast you should all be listening to every week) that I said Eternal Masters wasn’t really necessary because you could just do a second Conspiracy set this year and put more Legacy reprints in that set.

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Was this not a fair assumption to make? We had alternated Modern Masters -> Conspiracy -> Modern Masters for 3 years and that’s enough data points to consider a trend. The announcement of Eternal Masters seemed to preclude another Conspiracy. After all, how could they do both in the same “slot” that was reserved for the summer set? True, we’re not doing core sets anymore, but we’ll still have Eternal Masters, Conspiracy 2, an FTV, Commander 2016 and Eldritch Moon in the same 3 month period. What are we supposed to buy? Well, Wizards is banking on people thinking “not everything is for me” and only buying what they care about. This is a silly way to stack sets –  so silly that I absolutely assumed Eternal Masters was going to replace Conspiracy 2. And in a way, I think maybe it is.

What’s Conspiracy going to look like next year? We can start to look at some unsafe cards and shift our money elsewhere and we can start to look at which cards will get cheaper, enabling more people to access certain archetypes. There’s no question that cheaper Exploration helped EDH deck builders, for example, and there are a lot of ripples in the pond we can analyze from that one big splash. Let’s look at some numbers from the last Conspiracy set.

The last Conspiracy set had 210 cards and I expect a similar number of cards this time around. Of the 210 cards, 65 of them were brand new cards and 13 conspiracy cards. Of those 65 new cards, a whopping 20 of them were rare. Of the 10 mythics, 4 were new cards, all of them pretty saucy including Dack Fayden, a Vintage-playable card whose foil price is pretty bugnutty. If we can expect similar numbers for the next Conspiracy set, we’re in for some great new commanders like Selvala, Marchesa and Brago were last time around. That’s fun but not knowing exactly which new cards we’re going to get doesn’t tell us much. Instead, I want to look at what happened to the prices of the cards that were reprinted last time around to see if we can project the impact of a new Conspiracy set.

Some of the cards were reprinted last time because their prices were out of control from speculation (Edric) or were high because of a ton of EDH use (Exploration) or high because of a decent amount of use in Legacy (Stifle, Misdirection) or for weird, nostalgia purposes (Spiritmonger). Honestly, the set was weird and weird isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

How much Legacy needs to be in Conspiracy 2? They knew they were doing Eternal Masters at the same time they knew they were doing Conspiracy 2 (I have to assume since they’re coming out at the same time and it usually takes a given amount of time to make a set) so they had to know that Eternal Masters could take a lot of pressure off of the Legacy and Vintage cards they’d need to put in Conspiracy. This doesn’t tell us as much as you think because the Commander 2016 sets coming out not long after these two sets will remove some of the impetus to reprint Commander cards. What to make of all of this? Will there be more casual cards that don’t have an obvious home like Spiritmonger and Mirari’s Wake? Will we have a Conpsiracy set that’s very similar in scope and composition to the last one? Will Eternal Masters have any EDH-playables like Modern Masters did or will it focus on Legacy and Vintage staples? All of these are great questions. The only thing I do know is what happened to the cards that were reprinted last time around, so let’s look at those.

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Before I remind you when Conspiracy 1 was printed, see if you can guess by looking at the graph. I bet you can guess.

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June of 2014. The price drop was pretty profound, which surprised me a tiny bit seeing as how fugly the art on the Conspiracy copies is. Brought down from nearly $50 to its current $13ish, this was a major casualty. Somehow not on the Reserved List (they needed to make room for Zephid and Herald of Serra, I guess) they were free to reprint this card and reprint it they did. This was good for EDH players and good for people who like to sell cards and didn’t have any of these in stock. Reducing the price to a third of its former glory but giving us a foil copy in exchange which is merely twice the cost of the Saga non-foil (could that be the correct multiplier? ) this reprint was pretty bloody but ultimately pretty satisfying for people who wanted to give this a try in EDH. It’s also in Legacy Enchantress but I doubt that was as much of an impetus for the reprinting although overlap is always good for price recovery. I would put the odds of this being in Conspiracy 2 pretty low but nothing would surprise me. Being able to ramp in a 4-player free-for-all can be the difference between life and death.

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This is roughly the same cross-format overlap (although Summer Bloom’s nerfing makes this less applicable in Modern – but did they know that when they made this set?), does roughly the same thing and is at roughly the same price point as Exploration was. Whether they’re going to want to shift the reprint toward spells because they’re printing a lot of new creatures, I can’t say. If I were designing this set, though, I’d probably jam Azusa in there. I doubt Eternal Masters wants a Modern/EDH card like this, I doubt they want a $40 card in the Commander 2016 decks and I doubt I’m right about this being in  Conspiracy 2. Still, this feels analogous and I really wouldn’t be surprised. They’re at their peak in price but not desirability, so this slight chance of a reprint is just reason number, like, 480 to buylist these if you got in before the major jump.

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How did they see this price spike coming? It started basically when they started work on the set and this card got ridiculous before the end. A $50 sideboard card isn’t good for any format and this reprint pulled the pants off of Stifle. A reduction in demand probably had a bit to do with the decline, but this is still a very powerful card. Canadian Thresh decks which basically became RUG Delver were maindecking this card for a while because it was a stone rain against fetches and stopped all kinds of nonsense from their delver flipping to modular to their Jitte getting counters. It’s less useful now and there are a lot more copies out there. Stifle took a beating from this reprinting – you can get the (ugly) Conspiracy versions for like $3.

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This doesn’t do close to what Stile did in terms of how the card plays, and this isn’t a $50 card like Stifle pretended to be for a while, but Bribery is about the price Stifle was when they got to work on Conspiracy. This sees less Legacy play but this is very good in 4 player Limited, it’s great in EDH, it’s not as likely to get printed in Commander 2016 since they’re doing multicolored decks this time around and this card is VERY blue. $16ish isn’t super oppressive in terms of price, but if these were $5 I’d buy $30 worth for my decks and I won’t spend $30 on two of them, now. The price isn’t going down any other way and EDH will always love this card. Again, this is just the card I’d put in if I were making the set. I’m not saying hurry up and sell these if you have them, but the price isn’t going up soon but could go down. I don’t like the risk.

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This was the second reprinting this card got and it was enough. The price was cut in half. I like the original art the best but no one else seems to care as much because the Shadowmoor and Tempest versions are nearly identical in price. This might have climbed some more and seemed to have mostly recovered from the Shadowmoor reprinting. EDH demand is going to increase on this card based on the new rules changes but we’re not expecting to see a jump anytime soon. Besides, this could get another reprinting which basically doesn’t matter at this point.

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Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

This one’s ballsy

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This would likely be thrown in at mythic, but I will be very surprised if we go through Eternal Masters and Conspiracy 2 and don’t see a reprinting of Cavern. It’s a card that needs to be inexpensive and it’s just as good in casual as it is in competitive. This is a card I went after very hard for $20 when it was first printed and expected it to hit $50 and was very pleased when it finally did.

This is a card that needs a reprinting and is going to get one, soon. This is when you sell these and if you’re still holding these when it’s reprinted, you’re going to be sorry. I don’t like holding onto this hot potato and I urge you to ship.

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This was a brutal reprinting and no one ever really talked about the price trajectory here. We saw a profound drop over 6 months but it seemed relatively unperturbed initially so everyone thought this wasn’t quite the slaughter it ended up being. P Deed is around $5 which is great for EDH players and bad for people who had money tied up in P Deed. Are you good with the amount of analysis I did here?

Possible Conspiracy 2 Analog

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This is already on its way down, but it’s still a little pricey for EDH players for what it does and it could be a staple removal spell because it solves every problem. Ayli and Daxos are very popular EDH Commanders right now, and a $5 Vindicate seems good. Unmake is getting play and Vindicate being a sorcery hurts it a bit, but being able to get rid of Reliquary Tower or Serra’s Sanctum seems worth it. P Deed is an old school card that solves EDH problems and Vindicate feels like it could get that spot. The declining price of Vindicate right now is as much an impetus to sell quickly as the reprint risk, however. I’m just picking analogous cards, not trying to tell you how to manage your collection.

Conspiracy 2 is going to be a good set. It’s going to give Cube players nifty cards that affect the way players draft, which is amazing. It’s going to give us new EDH generals and staples, which we appreciate. It’s going to reduce some high-priced cards the way the first Conspiracy did. Most of all, it’s going to give my critics another thing I got wrong to point to. I’m fine with all of that

 

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Going Deep in EDH with Eternal Masters

I would be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that Eternal Masters was announced this week. This is going to be one of the most significant MTG Finance events of 2016 so we can’t pretend we won’t be affected, can we? Legacy as we know it is going to change as staples like Force of Will and Wasteland go down in price (We know this because these cards were announced) and cards like Underground Sea go up in price. And why not? Cards that aren’t safe from reprint could easily be in the set and their prices as volatile and unknown while Reserved List cards are safe from reprint and therefore subject to price increases based on increased confidence from buyers. We’re already seeing consequences of the announcement and at the time of writing this piece, it hasn’t even been 24 hours.

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Underground Sea is STARTING at $300. Who knows what we’ll be paying in a few weeks? How could this happen? More importantly, are there decks that don’t need duals and other crazy Reserved List cards to work in Legacy?

Well, I don’t care about that last question. Let other nerds write articles about decks that don’t need Reserved List cards. We are interested in EDH cards and if the Reserved List overlaps with cards we want, we’d better get them sooner rather than later. I wrote about EDH/Eternal overlap last week and while I’d like to write about something entirely different this week, I’m not gonna. We should look at cards that overlap Legacy and EDH, but this time with respect to the Reserved List specifically because Legacy is about to change and we don’t want EDH to get left behind. Are there cards that see play in both formats that could go up? Probably. Let’s look.

The Reserved List

This is a list of cards WotC has promised it won’t reprint. It is in their legal best interest to abide by the promise and a lot of us have money tied up in cards that would be hurt financially by a breaking of this promise. Put simply, this list is a way for us to have some confidence in our investments in older cards so we can avoid another situation like Chronicles where reprints pantsed prices on a lot of cards and undermined confidence in the rest. While some cards on this list are baffling (I’m looking at you, Sorrow’s Path) what we have is a good list to base future buys off of. A lot of the cards on this list aren’t EDH-playable, but the ones that are can be relied on to go up in value, steadily due to the fact that they can’t have their value hurt by a future reprint. There isn’t a huge sense of urgency on every card, though, so the impetus of this article is to identify the cards that could go up if interest in Legacy increases the way they expect it to with the advent of Eternal Masters.

The obvious first cards to discuss are Legacy Dual Lands.

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These are all bound to go up. Force of Will will likely go down or stay the same in value but people who have Force of Will for the first time by virtue of picking up Eternal Masters packs will want to build Legacy deck(s) and they’ll need these. Not only that, speculators are already going after these, hard. Since a non-zero number of EDH players pack these, it’s worth watching. Grab the ones you need now because supplies are drying up.

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Geyser is a great way to use X colorless mana, although players tend to use Blue Sun’s Zenith more, this is a card that could see a bump. Zenith tends to  get Legacy play more as well, and three printings of this limit its upside farther.

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At $7 for its cheapest printing can attest, this card is actual money. Used in a significant number of artifact-based decks like Sharuu, this also sees play in Tezzerator Legacy decks and has been creeping up steadily for a while. It’s always been a good pick, but its reserved list status can only help its upside.

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Fringe EDH play and Fringe Legacy play combined could spell upside for a card that has held steady in price but could go up in a Tezz deck in the new Legacy, especially if someone figures out how to cut down on the number of expensive Underground Sea in the deck.

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On the other hand, this is fringe EDH and mainstream Legacy, but those fringe EDH decks better get their copies while they can.

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This is useful in decks like Zedruu and Legacy Enchantress both. At $300ish this is a high buy-in but I feel like soon $300 may seem like a bargain. I don’t know how much money there is to be made here, but I’d feel remiss if I ignored it.

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This is part of an obscure combo that hasn’t seen much play lately, but this is a card that sees play in decks like The Mimeoplasm as well. There is upside here and with this card having already demonstrated the ability to be $5 and the copies being concentrated in the hands of dealers making a second spike easier, I think this could be a winner.

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Nekusar decks as well as Hellbent decks want this little trinket which is too bad since Legacy has made this a $120 card already and threatens to take it even higher. This is a card you may want to eschew in EDH if you can since you don’t have that luxury in Legacy.

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This gets more EDH play than you might expect and its current pricetag is on the low end of historical date, which I don’t expect to hold since Eldrazi Mimic has made this a much more attractive target. Stiflenought is a real deck and with 4 more ways to make this a savage 1-drop, this has real upside. This can be $40 again and you want to be holding when it gets there.

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A long-time sideboard staple is making a splash in decks like Gaddock Teeg and other “Uh uh, you didn’t say the magic word” type decks in EDH as well. This is a card that we may see on creatures or other ways to avoid making a straight-up functional reprint that violated the Reserved List but it’s unlikely we see a card as perfect and perfectly-costed as this. This is at a historical high but that doesn’t mean it will never be higher.

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This is a card that has demonstrated an ability to be $10+ and is super good at shutting down creature strategies. Its toughness means it’s relatively easy to remove and Abrupt Decay being everywhere doesn’t help and you still have to find a way to kill them with this card out there, but don’t be discouraged. This is a solid card and EDH wants it as well as Legacy. This could be $10 again and you will be glad you paid $3. When Merfolk and other beatface decks prevail rather than decks like Sneak and Show, this is a real card and Eldrazi cards showing their head in Legacy to an extent show that people may be swinging with creatures more in the future. Keep this in mind.

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Speaking of Eldrazi in Legacy, this budget Workshops is a real mana generator and it is no slouch in EDH, either. Anything that generates this much mana is bound to turn heads and this card is creeping up on its own. Any nod it gets from Legacy will send it upward.

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Aluren itself isn’t the limiting factor in the eponymous deck, it’s Imperial Recruiter that keeps this deck that can kill people with Lobber Crew if you want (I want) from being played more. This spiked before when Recruiter was announced as a Judge printing and while a dealer or two who had advanced knowledge acted on this and bought all of the Alurens out, this play is largely acknowledged as a huge failure and brought up a a cautionary tale regarding buyouts. The good news is that failed buyout concentrated copies of Aluren in the hands of dealers meaning the price will stay higher for longer if the card spikes again. If Imperial Recruiter ends up in Eternal Masters, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t, Aluren becomes a very affordable and fun deck to play and Aluren itself with its Reserved List status will only go up, possibly back to the $30 a few people thought they were going to get a few years ago.

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When I bought a bunch of these at $10, I expected to make more money than I did. I didn’t lose money here but I wasn’t happy with how  I did. I could do better.This card could do better. This card will likely do better if Show and Tell decks persist. Sneak Attack and/or Show and Tell being printed in EM could drive popularity up and this is a great board card in those matchups as well as a nasty card for enchantment EDH decks. All in all I like this card a lot, even at its current price.

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This has always been a fine card and people wanting to jam this with Hedron Alignment in Legacy won’t make the price go down, that’s for sure. This does a lot of work in EDH and this price tag is at a historic low for the last few years. All signs pointing to this being a pretty tasty spec.

UntitledWhy did this card ever stop being $20? The deck is still fine, it lets you run out a very early Omnipotence, it makes cards like Conflux playable and it’s great in EDH. This can be $20 again and the current buy-in is pretty tasty for that contigency.

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If you want this for EDH, I think now is a good time to pick this up. Its price plateauing is predicated on Legacy demand staying the same. How long do you think that will last? This won’t be in Eternal Masters but will be in decks going forward. This is also an EDH staple and just does a ton of work. This price will be higher soon and if you buy now, you’ll be glad you did, I imagine.

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This card demonstrated the ability to hit $100 and I think it can get there again, especially since the first spike concentrated copies in the hands of dealers meaning copies won’t come out of the woodwork to bring the price down. This taps for 2 mana, and 2 true colorless mana at that. Sounds good to me.

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I wish I had been writing this column back in 2013 when they changed the Legend rule so I could have written an article about how Cradle and Mox Opal were getting better with the ability to play a second copy and sac the tapped copy giving you more mana on that turn. Legacy players got the message, then Elves took off in Legacy and even Vintage got in on the act, running Cradle in some shops builds since it’s not restricted in that format. This price isn’t going down as more people join Legacy, is it? EDH demand will keep the price high and this is a perfect crossover example.

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I told you to buy this at $30, I don’t know what more I can do. Legacy Enchantress is a deck and will continue to be a deck. Add how good this is with the new Daxos and you have a crossover card that could give Gaea’s Cradle a run for its money. I mean, no it won’t, but it could. Either way, this was a good buy at $30 and I’m not sure it’s the worst buy at $50, even. Imagine that.

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Rector? Damn near killed ‘er!

This list is, in my estimation, the cards that are EDH-playable and could be impacted by increased Legacy play. The Reserved List ensures they can’t be printed in Eternal Masters and when the cards that get played alongside them go up, we can expect to see some sweet gains.

There are other Reserved List EDH goodies but since they aren’t played in Legacy, I decided to leave them alone since there is no urgency in their price. Events are what drive prices up, and more Legacy demand is an event. It remains to be seen how many of these cards go up, but since they aren’t likely to go down, all of them should go up eventually.

That does it for me this week. Stay tuned next week where we’ll likely have some other insane event to discuss. A new format? New cards? Anything can happen with this wacky children’s card game.

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